Thousands of sinkholes are today perforating the shores of the Dead Sea in Israel and Palestine, covering a wide strip of land that stretches between the water and the vast Judean desert around. Swallowing the remnants of what used to be a popular beach, a water park or a settlement, the sinkholes make the land uninhabitable and hazardous. What Zionists once called a Natural Treasure to attract tourism and investment, is today a dilapidating site erected on unstable grounds.
Departing from the shared etymology of the words “salary” and “soldier” from the Latin salarium, co-directors Sasha Litvintseva and Daniel Mann capture the entanglement of economic, military and geological forces, which manifests in the figure of the sinkhole.
The sinkhole appears as both visible symptom and active cause of the failure of a colonial project to instrumentalise nature, collapsing together two temporal scales: the micro-histories of settler colonialism and the slow disaster produced by the exhaustion of natural resources. It appears as the collapsing of the surface into the sub-terrain, with that collapsing the possibility of thinking of territory as mere surface.
Salarium, Dir. Sasha Litvintseva and Daniel Mann, UK, 2017, 42 mins
Sean Cubitt is Professor of Film and Television at Goldsmiths, University of London and Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Cinema Effect (MIT, 2004), Ecomedia (Rodopi, 2005), The Practice of Light: Genealogies of Visual Media (MIT, 2014) and Finite Media: Environmental Implications of Digital Technology (Duke, 2017). Sean is on the editorial boards of a number of journals and is a series editor for Leonardo Books at MIT Press. He teaches and writes about the history and philosophy of media, and is especially interested in environmentalism, media technologies, media arts and political aesthetics.
Sasha Litvintseva is an artist, filmmaker and researcher based in London and Berlin. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including Rotterdam International Film Festival, Berlinale, Videobrasil, Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Sonic Acts, Berlinische Galerie, Courtisane Festival, WRO Media Art Biennale, FRONT Triennial, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival and Kasseler Dokfest. Her films and research are situated on the intersection of geological, embodied and historical temporalities and materialities. She is currently completing a PhD proposing the concept of geological filmmaking at Goldsmiths.
Daniel Mann is a filmmaker and writer based in London. His films have been screened internationally at festivals such as the Berlin Film Festival (Forum), International Film Festival Rotterdam, Cinéma du Réel, IDFA and others. He is currently completing his PhD at the Department of Visual Cultures (Centre for Research Architecture) at Goldsmiths. Mann’s films and writing seek to redefine the politics of images through the entanglement of representations, users, media practices and the automated operation of data. His writing has been published in Media, Culture & Society and the Journal of Visual Cultures.